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Going Mobile: Microtubule Motors and Chromosome Segregation

Nelson R. Barton and Lawrence S. B. Goldstein
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 93, No. 5 (Mar. 5, 1996), pp. 1735-1742
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/38406
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Going Mobile: Microtubule Motors and Chromosome Segregation
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Abstract

Proper chromosome segregation in eukaryotes depends upon the mitotic and meiotic spindles, which assemble at the time of cell division and then disassemble upon its completion. These spindles are composed in large part of microtubules, which either generate force by controlled polymerization and depolymerization or transduce force generated by molecular microtubule motors. In this review, we discuss recent insights into chromosome segregation mechanisms gained from the analyses of force generation during meiosis and mitosis. These analyses have demonstrated that members of the kinesin superfamily and the dynein family are essential in all organisms for proper chromosome and spindle behavior. It is also apparent that forces generated by microtubule polymerization and depolymerization are capable of generating forces sufficient for chromosome movement in vitro; whether they do so in vivo is as yet unclear. An important realization that has emerged is that some spindle activities can be accomplished by more than one motor so that functional redundancy is evident. In addition, some meiotic or mitotic movements apparently occur through the co-operative action of independent semiredundant processes. Finally, the molecular characterization of kinesin-related proteins has revealed that variations both in primary sequence and in associations with other proteins can produce motor complexes that may use a variety of mechanisms to transduce force in association with microtubules. Much remains to be learned about the regulation of these activities and the coordination of opposing and cooperative events involved in chromosome segregation; this set of problems represents one of the most important future frontiers of research.

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